Belarusian Opposition Leader In Court Over Protests

MINSK -- A prominent Belarusian opposition leader was forcibly taken to court by police in Minsk on March 10.

Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the unregistered Malady Front (Youth Front), was charged with resisting police, hooliganism, and violation of the law on public gatherings.

Dashkevich denied the charges, which are connected to his role in organizing a 15-day protest that halted a construction project near a protected historical site on the outskirts of the Belarusian capital.

The protests took place at the Kurapaty preserve, where at least 30,000 people were killed and buried by the Soviet authorities under dictator Josef Stalin in the 1930s and '40s.

The protesters said the construction of a business center adjacent to the preserve would desecrate the memory of Stalin's victims.

Construction work was suspended on March 1 and the protesters removed their camp at the site on March 6.

On March 7, a court in Minsk found another Kurapaty protester, Syarhey Palcheuski, guilty of violation of the law on public gatherings and sentenced him to three days in jail.